Though James works at Earnin’s Cincinnati office, he started playing pinball in the Bay Area. While staying with a friend in 2013, James got hooked on pinball after going to an arcade nestled into a screen printing shop called Free Gold Watch. When he went home, he found local leagues and got involved with the pinball community. He played in bars, arcades, and even people’s houses. “There’s a surprising number of people who own a bunch of pinball machines,” James says. “Some people are really into it. Like, you go and their basement is filled with 20 or 30 machines.”
According to James, his proudest pinball achievement is getting the Grand Champion score on No Fear, one of his favorite machines. “When you get the highest score, the Grand Champion, even if you reset the machine the score stays. You have to flush some memory out to do it, it’ll even withstand power outages.” Though he enjoys playing competitively, winning isn’t what James appreciates most about pinball. Instead, it’s the community, which is open and welcoming to all kinds of people.
On one trip to Vancouver, James met new people by going to bars and playing pinball with them. James is a good player, but he doesn’t think that’s a requirement for getting involved and having fun with pinball. “You can make it what you want,” James says. “There are some people who take it really seriously, there are people that don’t, it’s accessible to everyone. It’s a good way for pretty much anyone to hang out.”